This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

April 14th, 2003

Follow the Money

Or he who has the gold rules. Same game.

Dangerous for fly fishers, taking on 'money interests' can be expensive in both dollars and time.

Mohonk Preserve
We've had some comments on our Bulletin Board recently about 'big' interests doing bad stuff to our watersheds, purposing a casino on the Neversink, loss of access and degradation because of a purposed huge development between Mohonk Preserve, (shown above) Minnewaska State Park, and Sams Point Preserve in New York State and I'm sure where you live there is someone planning to build, remove water from, pollute or otherwise threaten our waters or access. On the casino on the Neversink, 'The Inveigler of Trout,' wrote a well-thought out answer to the cries of "Does the DRF, TU or The Nature Conservancy have a plan to oppose this? What can we do to stop it?" If you have not read this particular topic, I encourage you to do so - it is very important, because it is going to happen to you, in your region, where you live. Casino on the Neversink???

In part, he states:
"Abe Lincoln once said that people deserve the government they get. The same goes for development. FLY FISHERMEN DESERVE THE DEVELOPMENTS THEY GET, ESPECIALLY ON THE STREAMS THEY LOVE. That's a fact. And I know this made a bunch of you angry, but please read on.

As the Neversink sinks, remember, you deserve it. It is your legacy for failing to get involved sooner instead of later. When you failed to insist that your state enact tough environmental and land use planning laws, you also declared open season on your favorite stream."

You really need to read the whole post, and the others following, but my point is this; in last's weeks column I said, "Our country will survive. Our flag will still wave. But fly fishing may not survive. Who will fight for it?"

Case in point? The writer who asks if any of the named groups is doing something to oppose it? It isn't up to a 'group' to oppose bad stuff. It is up to YOU!

We have elected local people to county commissions, state boards, without knowing a hoot about what their values are, or if they will protect and defend our country much less defend our watersheds and wildlife. It is the LOCAL commissions and boards who pass the bulk of the permitting allowing developments. And let's get real, their 'service' to the community is not their full-time job. They are people who work, own businesses and have the same financial problems we all have. Will their community be better off with more money coming in? Duh. Nearly every politician will promise a chicken in every pot. Will they have more money in their pockets? It's called greed.

If no one has told you this before, write it down; Everyone operates from their own self interest first.

People purposing creating huge developments or casinos are in it to make money. They can sugar coat their proposal by citing 'jobs, revenue, financial support for schools' or any number of things which may turn out to be lies. But since there isn't any law saying they have to tell the truth, you should expect lies and you won't be shocked later.

Do you vote? Did you vote in the last local election? Why not? Not interested in 'local' politics? Well shame on you!

Folks in Texas have a battle coming. They may not even know it. I sincerely hope the Texans voted in their last elections too - because this one is going to hit your legislature.

If you recall some months ago, Hillfisher wrote a column about RV vehicles in Texas streams and rivers who had claimed such waters as their personal playground. Many of our readers wrote the Governor, and that practice will be stopped. Ah, but don't take a deep breath, there is another one. The Texas Farm Bureau, in the February issue of their magazine Texas Agriculture gives a overview of a February state meeting of Farm Bureaus Leadership Conference. Some 450 'leaders' meet to discuss "commodity discussions and receive briefings on proposed legislation and potential impacts..." The front page of the magazine headline? "Open Season, TFB seeks landowner hunting license exemption for feral hogs.." Let's see, the TFB (Texas Farm Bureau) wants Elk to be unlisted as a game animal, and landowners not required to buy licenses. Follow it through? No money for a elk license (in fact, no license) and the same for feral hogs. What is that license money used for? What departments are totally supported by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses? Could it be the TFB wants to do away with the Texas Dept. of Fish and Game?

And how are they going to do that? By convincing the state legislature that landowners should be exempt. Are these the same landowners who charge 'dudes' $300 to $600 to hunt elk or wild pigs on their property? And they shouldn't have to buy a license?

Also on the TFB list: "supporting legislation to prohibit hunting in the riverbed and prohibiting motor vehicle access in riverbeds." One of my correspondents in Texas sent me a note on this one, "Next will be prohibition of fishing riverbeds, and then landowners will take over [ownership] of riverbeds."

If you live in Texas, it's time for you to find out who your local representative and senator to the Texas legislature are and contact them! You elected these people didn't you? Right.

If you are a member of the TFB and a fly fisher or hunter, you need to contact your local representative and ask who is responsible for this piece of stupidity. Tell them it has to stop.

Winston Churchill had a wonderful quote, and it seems to fit the sort of legislators we have elected who promise a chicken in every pot - something for everyone. No matter what your interest or cause, they've got a program for you. It's called appeasement. Churchill's quote, "appeasement reflects the hope that the crocodile will eat you last."

Obviously, the TFB and the developers and casino people - and another batch we'll hear about down the road are all counting on being the ones standing when everything else is gone.

Unless we wake up, they will be right. And they will be the ones with all the money. ~ The LadyFisher

Credits: Photo from the Mohonk Preserve website: Celebrating their 40th Year!

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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